No. 2 UBC Okanagan escapes with weekend sweep over Thompson Rivers in five-set thriller, extending their league streak to twelve wins, qualify for the playoffs, and stay atop the conference.
Women's Volleyball (Canada West conference play)
|(2) UBC Okanagan
|UBC Okanagan (16-4)||25||21||25||23||15||3|
|Thompson Rivers (7-13)||25||25||15||25||10||2|
KAMLOOPS, B.C. – The No. 2 UBC Okanagan Heat (16-4) women’s volleyball team continued rolling Saturday night, forcing the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack (7-13) to their ninth five-set series this season though ultimately winning in a 15-10 final set to extend their win streak to twelve (25-12, 21-25, 25-15, 23-25, 15-10).
With the win, the Heat have clinched a berth in the Canada West postseason for a third straight season.
Heat coach Steve Manuel thought it was a character building match for both sides. “The WolfPack have improved so much. Chad (Grimm, TRU head coach), Nathan (Bennett, TRU assistant coach) and Robbyn (Dalin, TRU assistant coach) have done a great job. They are so tough to play. They keep coming. They are making smart decisions and making the right play at the right time to keep you off balance. We are a streaky team. It is not uncommon for us. We know we are going to be like that. TRU put us off balance more than normal.”
“You look at the way we started the match and how we ended it—it was two completely different teams,” said Grimm. “ It is tough to dig yourself a hole and get out of it and that is what we did tonight. It was good after such a poor start in the first set. We could have thrown in the towel but I thought the girls did a good job of battling in the second. Another tough set in the third and we battled back in the fourth. In the fifth, I thought we battled hard but got behind early.”
UBC Okanagan was led by Brianna Beamish (fourth year, outside hitter, Surrey, BC) with 18 kills in 40 chances with three digs and two block assists. Katy Klomps (fourth year middle, Surrey, BC) had 14 kills in 23 attempts (.458) with a service ace, three digs, a solo block and nine block assists.
Manuel when asked who played well for the Heat was quick to say Katy "Klomps obviously had a great game scoring a slew of points for us [UBC Okanagan] along with Brianna Beamish," he also gave a nod to second-year outside hitter Michelle Jakszuk (Gibsons, BC), who "made big plays at big times," giving a big help to the efforts of Beamish and Klomps offensively to secure the win. Jakszuk finished with nine kills and a match-high ten block assists.
Emily Oxland (third year, setter, North Vancouver, BC) had 41 assists and 10 digs for the Heat. Kailin Jones (fourth year, libero, Kelowna, BC) added 11 digs.
The WolfPack were led by Iuliia Pakhomenko (third year, outside hitter, Donetsk, Ukraine) with 21 kills in 47 (.170) chances with a service ace, 1 digs and a block assist.
Katarina Legutky (first year, outside hitter, Calgary, AB) had 12 kills in 28 opportunities with 13 digs. She was named the TRU Player of the Match.
“I thought Kat did an excellent job coming off the bench,” said Grimm. “ She came in when we were struggling a bit on reception. I put Alyssa (Wolf, fourth year, outside hitter/libero, Surrey, BC) back to libero. Kat came in for Tyneille (Neufeld, first year, outside hitter/libero, Winnipeg, MB) and came on strong defensively. She helped turn the course of the match around.”
Morgan Kolasa (second year, middle, Calgary, AB) added six kills in 15 chances with 2 service aces, three digs and three block assists.
Kara Twomey (third year, setter, Winnipeg, MB) had 38 assists with eight digs one solo block and one block assist.
Manuel says UBC Okanagan will take the sweep over TRU and build upon it. “We are still juggling our line ups. We started three different people this weekend who didn’t play the week previously. We have a number of good players. We are still working on the chemistry with different groups. We are giving people time so we are healthy down the stretch and no one is overused. It might hurt us for a point or two. But honestly, no matter which group we put out there, they play really well.”
Grimm says the chances of the ‘Pack making the post season took a major hit with the two losses to the Heat. “One of these last two matches here had to be a must win. At the end of the day, we need to find a level of consistency. These last two weekends (Mount Royal and Saskatchewan), we have the chance to sweep. We haven’t swept at all this year. I think our focus has to be going point by point every night. I think our focus tonight was much better than it was on Thursday (a 3-1 loss at UBCO).”
The WolfPack will stay at home to host the Mount Royal Cougars next weekend (January 23-24) at the Tournament Capital Centre.
UBC Okanagan has a bye next week and will play next in Calgary versus Mount Royal (January 29-30), the next and last regular season games on their home floor will be February 6-7 when they host the Brandon Bobcats.
~ With notes from Larry Read (TRU Sports Information)